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Casablanca (in Arabic: الدار البيضاء ad-Dār al-Bayḍāʼ as well as کازابلانکا Kāzāblānkā; Portuguese for white (blanca) house (casa) ; nicknamed by locals: Caza; Antique and original name in Amazigh: Anfa /) is a city in western Moroccomarker, located on the Atlantic Ocean. It is the capital of the Greater Casablanca region.

With an official population of over 3.1 million (not including the expansive slums), Casablanca is Morocco's largest city as well as its chief port. It's also the biggest city in the Maghreb. Casablanca is considered the economic capital of Morocco because it is the heart of Moroccan business; the political capital is Rabatmarker.

Casablanca hosts headquarters and main industrial facilities for the leading Moroccan and international companies based in Morocco. Industrial statistics show Casablanca retains its historical position as the main industrial zone of the country. The Port of Casablancamarker is one of the largest artificial ports in the world, and the largest port of North Africa. It is also the primary naval base for the Royal Moroccan Navy.

History

Before the French Protectorate

The area which is today Casablanca was settled by Berbers by at least the 7th century. A small independent kingdom, in the area then named Anfamarker, arose in the area around that time in response to Arab Muslim rule, and continued until it was conquered by the Almoravids in 1068.
Casablanca seen from Spot Satellite
During 14th century, under the Merinids, Anfa rose in importance as a port. In the early 15th century, the town became an independent state once again, and emerged as a safe harbour for pirates and privateers, leading to it being targeted by the Portuguese, who destroyed the town in 1468.

The Portuguese used the ruins of Anfa to build a military fortress in 1515. The town that grew up around it was called "Casa Branca", meaning "White House" in Portuguese.

Between 1580-1640, Casa Blanca was part of Spain, and later it became part of Portugal again. The European Colonists eventually abandoned the area completely in 1755 following an earthquake which destroyed most of the town.

The town was finally reconstructed by sultan Mohammed ben Abdallah (1756-1790), the grandson of Moulay Ismail and ally of George Washington. The town was called الدار البيضاء ad-Dār al-Bayḍāʼ (white house) in Arabic and Casa Blanca in Spanish.

In the 19th century, the area's population began to grow as Casablanca became a major supplier of wool to the booming textile industry in Britainmarker and shipping traffic increased (the British, in return, began importing Morocco's now famous national drink, gunpowder tea). By the 1860s, there were around 5,000 residents, and the population grew to around 10,000 by the late 1880s. Casablanca remained a modestly-sized port, with a population reaching around 12,000 within a few years of the French conquest and arrival of French colonialists in the town, at first administrators within a sovereign sultanate, in 1906. By 1921, this was to rise to 110,000, largely through the development of bidonvilles.

French rule

A view on the Boulevard de Paris in central Casablanca
Boulevard Mohamed el Hansali in 1950s
In June 1907, the French attempted to build a light railway near the port and passing through a graveyard. Residents attacked the French workers, and riots ensued. French troops were landed in order to restore order, which was achieved only after severe damage to the town. The French then took control of Casablanca. This effectively began the process of colonizations, although French control of Casablanca was not formalised until 1910.

The famous 1942 film Casablanca underlined the city's colonial status at the time—depicting it as the scene of a power struggle between competing European powers, carried out with little reference to the local population. The film's vast cosmopolitan cast of characters (American, French, German, Czech, Norse, Bulgarian, Russian and some other nationalities) includes only a single (uncredited) local character, "Abdul" the doorman whose role is marginal, further accentuating the foreign character of the roles in that even this appearance of local population is presumably Arab, rather than indigenous Berber.

During the 1940s and 1950s, Casablanca was a major centre of anti-French rioting. A terrorist bomb on Christmas Day of 1953 caused many casualties.

The Casablanca Conference

Casablanca was an important strategic port during the Second World War and hosted the Casablanca Conference in 1943, in which Churchill and Roosevelt discussed the progress of the war. Casablanca was the site of a large American air base, which was the staging area for all American aircraft for the European Theater of Operations during World War II.

Since independence

Morocco gained independence from France on the 2nd of March, 1956.

In 1930, Casablanca hosted a Grand Prix. The race was held at the new Anfa Racecoursemarker. In 1958, the race was held at Ain-Diabmarker circuit - (see Moroccan Grand Prix). In 1983, Casablanca hosted the Mediterranean Games.

The city is now developing a tourism industry. Casablanca has become the economic and business capital of Morocco, while Rabatmarker is the political capital.

In March 2000, women's groups organised demonstrations in Casablanca proposing reforms to the legal status of women in the country. 40,000 women attended, calling for a ban on polygamy and the introduction of divorce law (divorce being a purely religious procedure at that time). Although the counter-demonstration attracted half a million participants, the movement for change started in 2000 was influential on King Mohammed VI, and he enacted a new Mudawana, or family law, in early 2004, meeting some of the demands of women's rights activists.

On May 16, 2003, 33 civilians were killed and more than 100 people were injured when Casablanca was hit by a multiple suicide bomb attack carried out by Moroccans and claimed by some to have been linked to al-Qaeda.

A string of suicide bombings struck the city in early 2007. A suspected militant blew himself up at a Casablanca internet cafe on March 11, 2007. On April 10, three suicide bombers blew themselves up during a police raid of their safe house. Two days later, police set up barricades around the city and detained two more men who had escaped the raid. On April 14, two brothers blew themselves up in downtown Casablanca, one near the American Consulate, and one a few blocks away near the American Language Center. Only one person was injured aside from the bombers, but the Consulate was closed for more than a month.

Climate

Casablanca has an arid Mediterranean climate (Dry-Summer Subtropical, Köppen climate classification Csb on the coast, Csa inland), and receives just enough annual precipitation to avoid the semi-arid classification (Köppen BSh) found to the south and east of the city. Most precipitation falls in the winter months.Casablanca's climate is strongly influenced by the cool currents of the Atlantic Ocean which tends to moderate temperature swings and produce a remarkably mild climate with little seasonal temperature variation and a lack of extreme heat and extreme cold.

Economy

Casablanca Old Medina District (ex city centre)


The Greater Casablanca region is considered the locomotive of the development of the Moroccan economy. It attracts 32% of the country’s production units and 56% of industrial labor. The region uses 30% of the national electricity production. With MAD 93 billion, the region contributes to 44% of the Industrial production of the Kingdom. 33% of national industrial exportations, MAD 27 billions, which is comparably with US $ 3.6 billion, come from the Greater Casablanca. 30% of Moroccan banking network is concentrated in Casablanca.

One of the most important Casablancan exports is phosphorate. Other industries include fishing, fish canning, sawmilling, furniture making, building materials, glass, textiles, electronics, leather work, processed food, beer, spirits, soft drinks, and cigarettes.

The Casablancamarker and Mohammediamarker seaports activity represent 50% of the international commercial flows of Morocco.

Almost the entire Casablanca coast is under project, mainly the construction of huge entertainment centres between the port and Hassan 2nd Mosque, the Anfa Resort project near Megarama cinema which is a business, distraction and living centre, Morocco Mall, a giant distraction mall, and finally a complete renovation of the walkway coast to be finished in June 2009. The Sindbad park is planned to be totally renewed by rides, games and distraction services.

Royal Air Maroc has its head office on the grounds of Casablanca-Anfa Airportmarker in Casablanca. In 2004 it announced that it was moving its head office from Casablanca to a location in Province of Nouaceur, close to Mohammed V International Airportmarker. The agreement to build the head office in Nouaceur was signed in 2009.

Demographics

The population of Grand Casablanca was estimated in 2005 at 3.85 million. 98% of them live in urban areas. Around 25% of them are under 15 and 9% are over 60 years old. The population of the city is about 11% of the total population of Morocco. Greater Casablanca is also the largest urban area in the Maghreb.The number of inhabitants is however disputed by the locals, who point to a number between 5 and 6 million, citing recent drought years as a reason for many people moving into the city to find work.

Judaism in Casablanca

There was a Sephardic Jewish community in Anfamarker up to its destruction by the Portuguese in 1468. Jews were slow to return to the town, but by 1750 the Rabbi Elijah Synagogue was built as the first Jewish temple in Casablanca. It was destroyed along with much of the town in the earthquake of 1755.

By the beginning of the 20th century, Casablanca was home to about 6,000 Jews - more than a quarter of the population. Since the beginning of the 20th century, Casablanca has been associated with Judaism more than any other city in North Africa. The Jewish population snowballed in the mid 20th century, partly because of the development of social support structures for Jewish incomers and partly, after the European Holocaust, because of an increased desire of some Jews for the protection of a large Jewish community.

Between the 1940s and 1960s, the Jewish population of Casablanca was around 70,000. Emigration to France, Canada, the United States and Israelmarker from Casablanca has been substantial since then, however. Large numbers of expatriates retain Moroccan citizenship and a Moroccan identity. Fewer than 5,000 Jews remain in the city today. Here is a list of a few synagogues in Casablanca:

  • Council of Moroccan Jewish Communities, (Conseil des Communautés Israélites du Maroc), 1, rue Adrienne Lecouver
  • Synagogue Beth-El - 67, Verlet-Hanus
  • Synagogue Téhila Le David - Bd du 11 Janvier
  • Synagogue Benarrosh - Rue de Lusitania
  • Synagogue Em-Habanime - Rue de Lusitania


An Israelimarker theatre play, extremely popular in the 1950s and 1960s and later made into a film, was called Casablan, depicting the difficult life in a Jaffamarker slum of the eponymous young Morrocan Jewish immigrant, evidently originating from Casablanca.

Notable physical landmarks

Walls of Old Medina in Casablanca
The 45 meters high El Hank lighthouse (built in 1905 and renovated between 1914 and 1917)
The French period New Town of Casablanca was designed by the French architect Henri Prost and was a model of a new town at that time. The main streets of the New Town (Ville Nouvelle in French) radiate south and east from Place des Nations Unies, where the main market of Anfamarker had been. The New Town is possibly the most impressive in Morocco. Former administrative buildings and modern hotels populate the area. Their style is a combination of Hispano-Mauresque and Art Deco styles.

Casablanca is home to the Hassan II Mosque, designed by the French architect Michel Pinseau. It is situated on a promontory looking out to the Atlanticmarker, which can be seen through a gigantic glass floor with room for 25,000 worshippers. A further 80,000 can be accommodated in the mosque's courtyard. Its minaret is the world's tallest at 210 metres.

Work on the mosque was started in 1980, and was intended to be completed for the 60th birthday of the former Moroccan king, Hassan II, in 1989. However, the building was not inaugurated until 1993. Authorities spent an estimated $800 million in the construction of the building.

The Parc de la Ligue Arabe (formally called Lyautey) is the city's largest public park. On its edge is situated the Cathédrale Sacré-Coeurmarker, which is disused, but is a splendid example of Mauresque architecture.

The Old Medina (the part of town pre-dating the French protectorate) attracts fewer tourists than the medinas of other Moroccan towns, such as Fesmarker and Marrakechmarker. However, it has undergone some restoration in recent years. Included in this project have been the western walls of the medina, its skala, or bastion, and its colonial-period clock tower.

The city is served by Anfa Airport and Mohammed V International Airportmarker, and its port is one of the largest artificial ports in the world.

List of notable landmarks



Transport

Trains

Casablanca is served by two rail stations run by the national rail service, the ONCF. The main long haul station is Casa-Voyageurs, from which trains run south to Marrakechmarker or El Jadidamarker and north to Rabatmarker, and then on either to Tangiermarker or Meknesmarker, Fesmarker, Taza and Oujdamarker. A dedicated airport shuttle service to Mohammed V International Airportmarker also has its primary in-city stop at this station, for connections on to further destinations.

The second station, Casa-Port, serves primarily commuter trains running the Casablanca - Kenitramarker corridor, with some connecting trains with running on to Gare de Casa-Voyageurs. www.oncf.ma

Coaches

CTM coaches (intercity buses) and various private lines run services to most notable Moroccan towns as well as a number of European cities. These run from the Gare Routière on Rue Léon l'Africain in downtown Casablanca.

Air

Casablanca's main airport is Mohammed V International Airportmarker, Morocco's busiest airport. Regular domestic flights serve Marrakechmarker, Rabatmarker, Agadirmarker, Oujdamarker, and Tangiermarker, Laayounemarker as well as other cities.

Casablanca is well served by international flights to Europe, especially French and Spanish airports, and has regular connections to North American, Middle Eastern and sub-Saharan African destinations. New York, Dakarmarker and Dubaimarker are important primary destinations.

The older, smaller Casablanca-Anfa Airportmarker to the west of the city, that served certain destinations including Damascusmarker, and Tunismarker, was largely closed to international civilian traffic in 2006. It currently services domestic flights and freight.

Taxis

Registered taxis in Casablanca are coloured red and known as petits taxis (small taxis), or coloured white and known as grands taxis (big taxis). As is standard Moroccan practice, petits taxis, typically small-four door Fiat Uno or similar cars, provide metered cab service in the central metropolitan areas. Grands taxis, generally older Mercedes-Benz sedans, provide shared mini-bus like service within the city on pre-defined routes, or shared inter-city service. Grands Taxis may also be hired for private service by the hour or day, although typically only foreigners do so.

Metro (planned)

An underground railway system is currently being projected, which when constructed will potentially offer some relief to the problems of traffic congestion and poor air quality. The metro will not be ready before 2017, having a length of 10 kilometers (6 miles) and costing 46.7 billion dirhams (approximately 5.8 billion USD). However, it should be noticed that none of the preparatory works for this project have started. And, no discussion of it is observed in the media. The anecdote among Casablanca population is that "water is too near below, that they cannot dig tunnels."

Tram (under construction)

A tram system is currently under construction should open in 2012.

Casablanca's administrative divisions

Satellite image of Casablanca
An aerial view of Casablanca


Casablanca is a commune, part of the Region of the Greater Casablanca. The commune is divided into 8 districts (prefectures عمالات), which are themselves divided into 16 subdivisions (arrondissements دوائر) and 1 municipality (بلدية).

Districts

Administrative divisions of the Casablanca City
Districts (fr: Préfectures d'arrondissement, ar: عمالة دوائر) Subdivisions (fr: Arrondissements, ar: دوائر) Municipalities (fr: Municipalités, ar: بلديات ) Superficy Population (2004)
عين الشقAïn Chock عين الشقAïn Chock   28.89 km² inhabitants
عين السبع الحي المحمديAïn Sebaâ-Hay Mohammadi عين السبعAïn Sebaâ   26.7 km² inhabitants
الحي المحمديHay Mohammadi  
الصخور السوداء / روش نوارRoches Noires (Assoukhour Assawda)  
أنفاAnfa أنفاAnfa   37.5 km² inhabitants
المعاريفMaârif  
سيدي بليوطSidi Belyout  
بن مسيكBen M'sick بن مسيكBen M'sick   10.27 km². inhabitants
سباتهSbata  
سيدي) برنوصي)(Sidi) Bernoussi سيدي) برنوصي)(Sidi) Bernoussi   38.59 km² inhabitants
سيدي مومنSidi Moumen  
الفداء - مرس السلطانAl Fida-Mers Sultan الفداءAl Fida المشورMechouar 17.9 km² inhabitants
مرس السلطانMers Sultan  
الحي الحسنيHay Hassani الحي الحسنيHay Hassani   25.91 km² inhabitants
مولاي رشيدMoulay Rachid مولاي رشيدMoulay Rachid   13.38 km² inhabitants
سيدي عثمانSidi Othmane  


Neighborhoods

(the list of neighborhoods is indicative and not complete)

  • Ain Sebaa
  • Belvédère
  • 2 Mars
  • Bouchentouf
  • Bourgogne
  • Centre Ville (downtown)
  • Californie
  • C.I.L.
  • Derb Gallef
  • Derb Sultan Al Fida
  • Derb TAZI
  • Hay Dakhla ("Derb Lihoudi") (quartier Martinet)
  • El Hank
  • El Hay El Mohammadi
  • Hay Farah
  • Gauthier
  • Habous
  • Hay El Hana
  • Hay Moulay Rachid
  • La Gironde
  • La Colline
  • Laimoun (Hay Hassani)
  • Lissasfa
  • Maarif
  • Old Madina (Mdina Qdima)
  • Mers Sultan
  • Nisaam
  • Oasis
  • Oulfa
  • Polo
  • Racine
  • Riviera
  • Roches Noires
  • Salmia II
  • Sbaata
  • Sidi Bernoussi
  • Sidi Moumenmarker
  • Sidi Maarouf
  • Sidi Othman


International relations

Sister cities



Education

Colleges and Universities

K through 12

Sports



People born in Casablanca



Casablanca in fiction



Images

Image:Logo casa.png|Logo of CasablancaImage:Casablanca 7.58684W 33.56662N.jpg|Satellite image

See also



References

  1. Casablanca - Encyclopedia of the Orient
  2. Discovering Casablanca - The Africa Travel Association
  3. Casablanca - Jewish Virtual Library
  4. Pennel, CR: Morocco from Empire to Independence, Oneworld, Oxford, 2003, p 121
  5. Pennel, CR: Morocco from Empire to Independence, Oneworld, Oxford, 2003, p 149
  6. Terror Cell: 'Police Hold Fifth Man' April 12, 2007
  7. Casablanca on alert after suicide bombings April 12 2007
  8. U.S. Shuts Morocco Consulate After Bomb April 15, 2007
  9. " Non-airline partners." Royal Air Maroc. Retrieved on 19 October 2009.
  10. " Royal Air Maroc.(Africa/Middle East)(Brief Article)." Air Transport World. 1 July 2004. Retrieved on 19 October 2009.
  11. " Casablanca: Nouaceur abritera le futur siège de la RAM." L'Économiste. 18 August 2009. Retrieved on 19 October 2009.
  12. Casablanca.ma
  13. see Hebrew Wikipedia http://he.wikipedia.org/wiki/%D7%A7%D7%96%D7%91%D7%9C%D7%9F
  14. http://www.casablanca.ma/index/docs/deplacement_urbain_casa.pdf
  15. La Préfecture de Casablanca (in French)
  16. Kuala Lumpur fact file, Asian-Pacific City Summit. Retrieved on December 31, 2007.
Bahiyyih Maroon, “Leisure Space: Thematic Style and Cultural Exclusion in Casablanca,” pp. 137–151 in The Themed Space: Locating Culture, Nation, and Self, ed. Scott A. Lukas (Lanham, MD, Lexington Books, 2007), ISBN 0-7391-2142-1

External links




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